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[Startup Montréal] - How Can An Impact Startup Access New Markets?

Updated: Nov 28, 2023

Four concrete tips to access new markets as a startup

The conquest of new markets is a goal in the minds of many entrepreneurs in the Montreal startup ecosystem. To discover the best tips for establishing oneself successfully in a new territory, we consulted Orlane Panet, CEO and co-founder of the urban agriculture company Microhabitat, and Lara Emond, CEO and founder of the first local company to offer healthy and sustainable menstrual products, Iris & Arlo. These two women at the helm of impact-driven companies have found valuable ideas to explore when adopting the right approach for growth. This rich discussion, full of interesting content, took place as part of our Startup campaign, the impact reflex, leading up to Impact Week.

1. Define your business model, strategy, and objectives

According to Orlane Panet, the first thing to consider when presenting ourselves to someone new is to define who we are. In a business context, choosing and understanding your business model well leads to a perfect identification of what you offer, to whom, how, in what context, and for what purpose. This is a crucial step for a founder because it allows them to stay on course during challenging periods or periods of reassessment, and there will certainly be some!

2. Monitor and analyze opportunities

Conducting active market monitoring for the market you want to conquer to observe emerging trends and better understand the real opportunities available to you would be the second good practice to adopt, as explained by Lara Emond. To continuously monitor at Iris & Arlo, her team subscribes to various newsletters and joins several networks or associations related to their business.

Before moving on to more concrete testing or officially choosing a new market, the company will also check if it receives requests from a new clientele through its own communication tools. This analysis phase, which leads to a better understanding of where our products and services "resonate," allows for an appropriate selection of the target market. Some places are naturally excluded after this step because this new customer segment requires too many changes and does not really align with the company's values.

"Ultimately, I think the way we have successfully expanded has been possible because the people we hire and those we integrate into our organization share similar values to ours. Listening to our own values and the market has led us to be in eight territories and already prompts us to aim for 17 new ones for next year. This approach truly brings people together in a realistic and authentic way," says Orlane Panet of Microhabitat.

3. Analyze tools and resources at our disposal

Each time a company chooses to open its doors to a new market, it will, of course, face many phases of adaptation. To prepare for these fluctuations, Orlane suggests looking at the work already done. It is thus easier to identify if we have existing contacts that can help us.

There are often already relationships between two countries or regions. Don't hesitate to leverage them. This can sometimes help overcome certain resource challenges in terms of time, money, or staff.

"It's essential to be well surrounded and not hesitate to seek the help of experts, but also mentors, people you already know or not, who have experience in the chosen markets. Their advice is highly practical," emphasizes the founder of Iris & Arlo.

4. Choose the right timing

Inevitably, these questions must be asked before formalizing the decision to access a new market: "Is the timing right for the company? Or, on the contrary, could opening this market too early or too late have a negative effect?"

Having well-defined objectives, having conducted a thorough market analysis, and already having established links with organizations present on the ground will easily answer these questions and make the right decision regarding the timing to choose for launching.

This article was written as part of the Startup campaign, the impact reflex, presented by Startup Montreal in collaboration with the government of Quebec.


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